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Already Over One Thousand Years Old...

Welcome inside the bag~

Happy new moon and welcome within the The Craneskin bag.

This will be the first in a series of blog posts which I shall endeavor to write every new moon in the vein of an artistic diary of ideas, incantatory musical, theatrical, puppetirical, mythopoetical and the ever revolving world of storytelling traditions. Please tell your friends and come visit me every month to see where the muse has wandered within the work, I encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments below so we can begin a dialogue together. So without further ado, let us let the beginning begin.

Photo by Angela Holm, poster design by Pam Hodges.

The Merry Month of May~ There is a poem which has haunted me and which has followed me for most of my adult life, it is a poem in celebration of the month of May, written in Ireland in the 8th or 9th century and is consistently accredited to the divine mythical hero and mantic poet seer, Finn mac Cumhaill. You may have heard of his name before, maybe in a book of Irish fairy tales, maybe in the voice of the wind atop a craggy cliffside, perhaps in the whisper of a foam white sea wave, maybe you heard myself telling tales of Finn, maybe your namesake is Finn... Whatever the case may be, Finn mac Cumhaill is a very complex and fascinating figure among the gargantuan corpus of Irish lore. Part God, part hero, part man, part giant, part trickster, part historical, part mythical and yes, part poet. What are the words he wrote which are today well over a thousand years old? They speak of nature as a lush and powerful supple creature of beauty, capable of being worshipped by both crowned pagan priest and ascetic monk alike. I will provide my favorite translation by Gerard Murphy from his 1956, Early Irish Lyrics~

May-Day, fair aspect, perfect season,

blackbirds sing a full lay when the sun casts a meagre beam.

The hardy vigorous cuckoo calls. Welcome to noble summer,

it abates the bitterness of storm during which branchy wood is lacerated

Summer cuts the stream small; swift horses seek water; tall heater spreads;

delicate fair foliage flourishes.

Sprouting comes tot he bud of the hawthorn; the ocean flows a smooth course;

Summer sends the sea to sleep; blossoms cover the world.

Bees of small strength carry bundles of culled blossom on their feet;

The mountain, supplying rich sufficiency, carries off the cattle.

Woodland music plays, melody provides perfect peace;

dust is blown from dwelling place and haze from lake full of water.

The strenuous corncrake speaks, the high pure cataract sings of joy from warm water;

Rustling of rushes has come.

Swallows dart aloft; vigor of music surrounds the hill where soft rich fruit flourishes,

The hardy cuckoo sings, the trout leaps; strong is the swift warrior.

Men's vigor thrives; the excellence of great slopes is complete;

Every spreading wood is fair; fair every great goodly plain.

Delightful the season: winters harsh wind has departed;

Woodland is fair and bright; water fruitful; peace is immense; summer is joyous.

A flock of birds settles on land where a woman walks;

There is noise in every green field through which a swift bright rivulet flows.

Fierce ardor and riding of horses; the serried host is ranged around;

The pond is noble in bounty and turns the iris to gold.

The frail man fears loudness; the constant man sings with a heart;

rightly does he sing out loud, "May-day, fair aspect!"

Illumination Tales film series on the way~

I have found the time within this time out of time to have recorded some short films containing excerpts from my upcoming work, Illumination Tales~ Poetic magic from ancient Ireland, Stories and songs of Finn mac Cumhaill. The first one will be released upon the next new moon/blog entry and contains a piece of music I wrote for the above poem which I dappled a bit here and there with my own lyrical paintbrush. The first round of filming took place May 17th and below is a photograph taken on set in the Hollow Hill studio. I am very excited to share the results with you next month!

Photo by Angela Holm.

A new member to the puppet family~

On another note I have nearly completed work on my next puppet for the Rumpelstilzchen marionette opera. She is an ancient crone with one eye and a book growing out of her head instead of hair, sagging breasts and a single wisdom tooth. I began carving her during the winter months and at last she is beginning to find her voice and take her first steps in the world. I will wait to post photos until she is finished, but rest assured by next new moon her unveiling will be worth the wait.


One film which I saw this last month and which lit a flame of inspired light within my head was, Searching for Sugarman. Released in 2012 it tells the story of 1970's Detroit based musicical icon, Rodriguez. If you have not seen this film I urge you to seek it out and without delay and without doing any homework on it beforehand, it is worth the watch. I grew up a stones throw from Detroit and my father taught in the Detroit public high school system. Motown is in my blood and will surprise me by influencing compositions I write to this day. There are few films which bring a tear to the eye, this one brought tears to both. I immediately purchased Rodriguez's albums and as I write I am in fact listening to his debut 1970 album, Cold Fact. This man is undefinable, undefeatable and an undeniable poet.

Word to the wise~

Fabulate~ 1. to tell invented stories; create fables or stories filled with fantasy.

2. To relate an event as a fable.

3. To relate, to fabulate, to orate, to narrate and ruminate upon the fates whom both create and devastate while dreaming and awake.

Three similar yet very distinct meanings for this word of the month. What was your last fabulation?

Farewell for now~

Stay tuned for the next new moon upon the summer solstice no less.

Until then may the wind be always at your back,

Your friend,

Tall and thin,

Through thick and thin once again,

~Dalrymple MacAlpin

New Moon, May 22nd, 2020


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